Join us at our First AGM. April 10th

The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct continue to play a pivotal  role in the quest to bring the iconic structure back into use as a walking and cycling trail. The Friends group are drawn from all walks of life and actively support the project from a wide range of different perspectives. Working in partnership with Sustrans, the award winning Friends group have done an immense amount to move the project forwards.

Inaugural AGM. On Monday April 10th 2017 at The Gate Inn, Awsworth at 7:00 pm, the group will be having its inaugural annual general meeting. At this meeting we will review the achievements of the previous year but more importantly, we will aim to reshape the group and refocus our work to match the new challenges that lie ahead as Sustrans puts in its bid for Heritage Lottery Funding.

Help us Shape the Group: In essence, the direction of the group will be shaped and determined by the group. You are invited to attend the meeting and propose motions which will be voted on by those who attend. If you wish to put forward a motion, please consider the four bullet points below and forward any motions to by Friday March 31st. This will give us time to ensure all motions are sent out prior to the meeting.

  • Indicate what you would want to develop or what you would want changing.
  • Identify the pros and cons of such a development.
  • Consider whether there are any resource implications.
  • Consider what you could do to make it happen.

Membership and Roles within the Group.  At present, “membership” of the Friends group is an informal arrangement but the view has been expressed in recent meetings that the group is now at the stage in its development to be formalising membership. There is also a need  to develop certain roles within the group such as merchandising, fundraising, managing and organising workdays, developing fund raising opportunities and if individuals volunteer to take on roles, then they must be working within a structure where they are empowered to make decisions within their particular area of responsibility. We are not in the position to open up those roles at present until there has been agreement at the AGM on motions that will be put forward in these areas.

We look forward to your involvement in the future of the group.


Kieran Lee

Restoring the Wrought Iron Giant

Bennerley Viaduct, made largely from wrought iron, has withstood the test of time and is in remarkably good shape for a structure which has been exposed to the elements since 1877.  Bringing the viaduct back into use has focussed attention on how best we can make the necessary repairs and how we ensure that the structure remains sound as it is brought back into use as a walking and cycling trail.

A seminar involving  Derby College students, engineers, heritage related conservation officers and members from the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct all learnt a great deal from Geoff Wallis, a leading conservator and founder member of the National Heritage Ironwork Group (NHIG) .   The event was hosted at the historic Roundhouse in Derby which is a Derby College campus.

Geoff Wallis had visited the Bennerley Viaduct on the previous day, learning about the project and assessing the scale of decay which has taken place.  He pointed out to delegates  where the structure needed attention and he outlined non invasive restoration techniques. Following the event, Geoff said ” You have a wonderful structure at Bennerley and your plans for its future are excellent.”

Sustrans Network Development Project Officer Bill Tomson said “we feel more informed and inspired about cast iron and wrought iron. Such knowledge will greatly help in our efforts to restore, manage and maintain Bennerley Viaduct correctly

The seminar was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and hosted in a partnership with Derby College.

Support from Anna Soubry MP.

Support from Anna Soubry MP in her latest newsletter to residents.

Anna Soubry MP pictured with Sustrans director Matt Easter.
Anna Soubry MP pictured with Sustrans director Matt Easter.

‘Bennerley viaduct – a great project gets off the ground
I am delighted to support a project to reopen the Bennerley Viaduct near Awsworth.

The charity Sustrans will bid for £4 million of Heritage Lottery funds to reopen the Viaduct which is 400m long and one of only two wrought-iron viaducts left in the country.

Bennerley Viaduct supported rail lines to transport coal across the Erewash Valley.

The restoration works will combine routes for cyclists and pedestrians and will link walks along the old Nottingham canal with the Erewash canal and trail.

It’s simply a brilliant project!’

Meet the man who nearly blew up Bennerley Viaduct.

The Ilkeston Woodside Model Railway Club’s annual show was full of people admiring the many model railway sets that were on display. The Club had kindly constructed a set up for us which included a scale model of Bennerley Viaduct and this gave us the chance to talk to people about the project.

A man peered into the set and exclaimed “I nearly blew that up”.  Eric Harris informed me that at some time in the early seventies, he had come out of the army where he had been an explosives expert. Back in civvy street, amongst other jobs, he went into the demolition business. When British Rail had no further use for their redundant viaduct, they asked companies to submit tenders for its demolition. Eric put in a tender. He explained that he was going to blow up the viaduct and put it on its side to make the dismantling of the structure easier. However,  he added that due to its wrought iron construction, the metal had no scrap value so the price of the tender could not be offset by the price of the scrap. In addition, the costs of transporting and disposing the wrought iron significantly added to the cost of the demolition. The tender price was too high and it was rejected. Had the viaduct been built of steel, it is more than likely that it would have been demolished. The choice of construction material, wrought iron, proved to be its saving grace.

Eric looked fondly at the model viaduct and said that he was glad that he did not get the contract and he wished the project well for the future. The image is entitled “With the Viaduct in his Hands”. It is always pleasing to hear stories about the viaduct – these personal stories are an important part of the viaduct’s history.

Viaduct MPs express support for Bennerley Project

Bennerley Viaduct joins communities. The viaduct straddles the River Erewash connecting Awsworth with Ilkeston, Derbyshire with Nottinghamshire, the boroughs of Erewash and Broxtowe and the archdioceses of York and Canterbury. The viaduct also links the Parliamentary constituencies  of Erewash and Broxtowe with the seats being held by Maggie Throup MP. and Anna Soubry MP. respectively.

Over the last fortnight, both MPs have visited the viaduct and enjoyed the wonderful views over the Erewash Valley. Sustrans staff shared with the MPs  the huge benefits that the project will bring to the area.  Both MPs are fully behind the project and are most enthusiastic at the prospect of bringing the viaduct back to life as a walking and cycling trail. Anna Soubry described the initiative as a “fantastic project” and she later tweeted “let’s make it happen”.

Anna Soubry MP gives thumbs up to Bennerley Project.

Broxtowe MP, Anna Soubry braved the cold and wet conditions taking a guided tour of Bennerley Viaduct with Matt Easter, Sustrans England Director and Bill Tomson,  Sustrans Network Officer. The proposals to bring the viaduct back into use as a walking and cycling trail were warmly welcomed by the Broxtowe MP . She commented that the project was “excellent” and a  “fantastic one”. She congratulated everyone involved in the project and  tweeted shortly afterwards “Let’s make it happen”.  Anna said she would support the project in any way that she could.

The viaduct straddles the Erewash Valley and connects Nottinghamshire’s Broxtowe constituency with Derbyshire’s Erewash constituency.



Exhibition On Tour

The exhibition which was in the Erewash Museum over the summer is now officially on tour. It has been in the Youth Centre in Awsworth.  It is currently in Awsworth primary School and it will be moving to different venues in the locality. If you know of somewhere who would like to display the large model showing the plans, then please get in touch with me.